MEETING REPORT: Panthers thumped by title-chasers

Jack Holder.
Jack Holder.
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Team manager Carl Johnson blasted track conditions after Peterborough Panthers suffered a heavy SGB Championship defeat last night (August 11).

The city racers were thumped 58-32 at title-chasing Edinburgh in the first of three away meetings in as many days – but Johnson insists the Armadale Stadium showdown should never have begun.

Chris Harris.

Chris Harris.

He compared the Scottish track to a ‘skating rink’ as Panthers lost reserve Tom Bacon to an aggravated shoulder injury following a spill on the final lap of heat two.

“The meeting should never have started and I made my feelings clear to the referee,” snapped Johnson.

“The track was atrocious after it had rained on and off all day – and there was nowhere enough work carried out on it before the start.

“It was slop, not shale, and that made it like a skating rink for the riders. There was only one line for most of the meeting and that made fast starting essential.

Paul Starke.

Paul Starke.

“Edinburgh were better than us in that department and any rider who tried to go off the line just ended up in difficulty.”

Panthers collected five race wins – three of which came from number one Chris Harris. Unfortunately the 11th heat – in which he took a tactical ride – wasn’t among them.

Harris trailed in behind Monarchs men Erik Riss and Josh Pickering in that contest when the sole Panthers representative.

That was one of two races in which they only sent one rider to tapes due to a lack of manpower with Bacon an early casualty on a night when they were already operating the rider replacement facility for injured Bradley Wilson-Dean. The club’s other reserve, Simon Lambert, had a full shift of seven rides.

Simon Lambert.

Simon Lambert.

Jack Holder and Paul Starke were the other Panthers men to take the chequered flag in front. The latter’s triumph in heat seven also inspired the visitors’ only advantage as disappointing guest Justin Sedgmen’s third place provided a 4-2.

Johnson added: “It’s a nightmare situation to lose a rider to injury early in a meeting when already operating rider replacement.

“Chris rode well and ‘Starkey’ did a solid job in the conditions, but Edinburgh were too strong.

“We’ll put this result behind us and go to Berwick with the aim of picking up a result.”

Panthers take on basement side Berwick at Shielfield Park tonight (August 12, 7pm).

Captain Ulrich Ostergaard returns after missing the defeat at Edinburgh due to a Danish League commitment, but number one Chris Harris is absent due to an SGB Premiership outing for Rye House.

Newcastle man Steve Worrall is the chosen guest while club chiefs were still searching for a stand-in for the injured Bacon at reserve.

SCORES

EDINBURGH: Ricky Wells 14, Josh Pickering 10+3, Erik Riss 10+1, Ludvig Lindgren (guest) 9+1, Theo Pijper 7+2, Max Clegg 6+1, Mitchell Davey 2+1.

PANTHERS: Chris Harris 10, Paul Starke 8+1, Justin Sedgmen 5, Jack Holder 5, Simon Lambert 4, Tom Bacon 0 (withdrawn), Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean

TEAMS

BERWICK: Nick Morris, Rider replacement for Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Dany Gappmaier, Kevin Doolan, David Howe, Jye Etheridge, Jack Parkinson Blackburn (guest).

PANTHERS: Steve Worrall (guest), Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean, Paul Starke, Ulrich Ostergaard, Jack Holder, Simon Lambert, Guest TBC.

* Peterborough Panthers are staying tight-lipped over suggestions that promoter Ged Rathbone has had his licence suspended ahead of a Speedway Control Bureau (SCB) hearing.

Rumours to that effect briefly surfaced on an online forum yesterday afternoon Friday before appearing to be removed.

The British Speedway Promoters’ Association (BSPA) warned in a statement last Sunday (August 6) that Panthers will face sanctions after allowing Jack Holder to miss the SGB Championship Fours to race in Poland.

The city side went on to win the annual event without their Australian talent while the BSPA have provided no update on the matter.

Rathbone politely declined to comment on the rumours when contacted by the Peterborough Telegraph late last night (August 11).